In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Churchwide Assembly: Analysis

For not blogging a lot while I was actually AT the Churchwide Assembly, I'm sure getting a lot of mileage out of it while I'm at home. This will probably be my last post about the Assembly (and there was much rejoicing!). Tomorrow, I depart for a family vacation to Alaska with my Other Half, my parents, and my sister and her husband. I'll attempt to write a little while I'm there, but I make no promises.

The last thing I wanted to say about Churchwide has to do with pastoral care and concern. There was a point earlier in the week when it looked like a possibility that the policy preventing clergy in same-sex relationships would actually fall. The Goodsoil volunteers were excited, of course, but we had some major concerns. Namely, we were concerned about those folks who would be hurt because of the policy change.

We talked among ourselves about how to act at the moment of the vote. We made sure to spread the news that there should not be a lot of vocal rejoicing or applause. We did not want to disrupt the business and further alienate those who are opposed to policy change. More pastoral-type folks than I were also discussing how to make sure that we reach out and provide some pastoral care to those who would feel hurt and alienated by the policy change. This was going to have to be something that was handed very carefully.

Here's the thing: We don't want people to leave the church...for any reason. We don't want our GLBT brothers and sisters to head over to the UCC or some other denomination because they feel there is no space here. We also don't want people to break off to form a Church of the Common Confession because they feel that our presence chases them away.

Maybe I'm speaking corporately too much. I know that I do not want people to leave. Many of us feel as though the ELCA is our home, especially those of us who have mainly grown up in the ELCA. It is not perfect, but it is our home. And we work to improve our church home.

Here's the complaining part. I don't think that the Lutheran CORE (or any other opposition group) ever thinks about providing care for those of us who were hurt by the continued policy. They are happy that the policy is still in place. It seems that they are mainly concerned about orthodoxy. Now, I'm all for orthodoxy, but we need to ensure that we are providing care for people. When we steamroll over people by ignoring their cries of pain, then we are not the loving church.

Even discipline (which is the main issue of the Lutheran CORE, it appears) can be given in a loving way. When parents discipline their child, its best to do it in a way that continues to let the child know they are loved. I don't think this group wants us to know that we are loved. They would rather kick us out of the house.

I really wish we had the opportunity to show our love and compassion for others who were hurting. It may help to demonstrate that we are real people who care about the gospel. We want to provide gospel to those who are hurting. Instead, we are given something that is not's not even law. It's just abuse.

I'm sorry this is such a downer. I'm not sure if there are more conservative readers of my blog (somehow I'm guessing not). I would really appreciate hearing other's thoughts on this. Am I way off base? Is there pastoral care and concern for those who are hurt by a policy? Please share.


Blogger LoieJ said...

Well written post. I did wonder what would happen if there were to be whooping and hollering about this issue if the outcome had been as you wanted it to be.

I don't count myself as either conservative or liberal on this issue, but perhaps concerned and confused.

Your point is valid and could well be applied to many issues. That sort of thing should be taught in pastoral care.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Justin G said...


i had similar thoughts going through my mind as i watched the way the two groups treated others during the assembly. though there were glimpses of hope for a truly loving coexistence (prayer together between the red and green mics) for the most part i sent hostility and anger on the part of the CORE group. This is a gross generalization I understand, but for the most part there was no sense of pastoral care from those wearing the large pins. in fact, on more than one occasion i noticed or was treated differently when someone saw the pin i was wearing. and the sick and wrong part of all of this is they are doing this, all of this, in the name of christ. where is the gospel in that?

peace and love to you and have a safe trip.


10:48 AM  
Blogger Michael Dodd said...

As an outsider, I am struck by the problems that exist across denominational and confessional lines on so many issues. At times it seems that those who are concerned about orthodox belief are not so concerned about orthodox (or not-so-orthodox) believers. The Word became flesh -- not dogma, not a text, not an idea. We still fail to grasp the implications of that revelation. The Logos did not need to become an idea -- it already was an idea. What was needed to reveal God was for the Logos to become one of us. Yet we constantly turn and worship ideas instead. Even good ideas about God are not God.

Anyway, congratulations to those who chose to think about an appropriate and pastoral way to react to a vote that might have gone their way. It is a lesson for all of us.

Enjoy Alaska (as hard as it is for a guy with Texas roots to say that!)

8:35 PM  

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